Papua New Guinea authorities on Thursday removed dozens of asylum seekers and ratcheted up pressure on more than 300 others to abandon a decommissioned immigration camp.
Refugees have reported that their shelters, beds and other belongings have been destroyed.
Police Commissioner Gari Baki said 50 police and immigration officials entered the Manus Island camp Thursday morning and “peacefully relocated” 50 asylum seekers among the 378 men to alternative accommodation in the nearby town of Lorengau.
Shen Narayanasamy, a human rights campaigner for the activist group GetUp!, said some of those bused from the camp reported being forced to leave.
Baki said in a statement all had “left voluntarily,” except for Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochan, a journalist who used social media to report on disturbing conditions on Manus.
Australian Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton told Sky News television that Boochan was among “a small number of people … arrested.”
But Baki said Boochan was neither arrested nor charged.
“He was stirring up trouble and telling the other refugees not to move out of the center so police and officers … simply escorted him out,” Baki said. “I am glad that this relocation exercise was done peacefully and without use of force.”
Boochan had earlier tweeted from the camp: “They are destroying everything. Shelters, tanks, beds and all of our belongings.”
“Right now are shouting at us to leave the prison camp,” he added.